Familiar face standing in Cameron Norrie’s way of Wimbledon quarter-finals

Norrie takes on his practice partner in the fourth round on Sunday while Heather Watson meets Jule Niemeier.

Cameron Norrie is targeting a first grand slam quarter-final (Adam Davy/PA)
Cameron Norrie is targeting a first grand slam quarter-final (Adam Davy/PA)

Cameron Norrie must hope he has not helped contribute to his own downfall as he prepares to face Tommy Paul for a place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.

Ninth seed Norrie is Paul’s fourth consecutive left-handed opponent and he has been practising with the American this tournament to prepare him for the contests.

Now the two, who are good friends, will do battle for real as both look to continue career-best grand slam runs.

Norrie found himself as the highest-ranked player left in his quarter of the draw as early as the second round and, after needing five sets to see off Jaume Munar, steamed through a clash with Steve Johnson on Friday.

Norrie will be the favourite again on Sunday but Paul, the 30th seed, has been having a strong grass-court season and the British number one will certainly not be looking too far ahead.

“The draw still has good players in it,” he said. “It’s nice to make the second week.

“There’s no easy guys out there. Tommy won really comfortably (against Jiri Vesely in round three). He seems really locked in, and he really likes the grass. It’s going to be really tough regardless if the draw is open or not. At the end of the day, I’ll take it again.

American Tommy Paul is enjoying his best grand slam run (Gareth Fuller/PA)

“We’ve actually practised maybe two or three times already here at Wimbledon. We know each other’s game very well. Good friends off the court. But we’re going to both leave that aside and it’s going to be a battle, for sure.”

For the first time this tournament, there were no British singles winners on Saturday, with Katie Boulter and Liam Broady both seeing their fine runs end.

Heather Watson is also through to the fourth round, though, and will play for the seventh day in a row.

The 30-year-old’s first two singles matches were both played over two days while on Saturday she teamed up with Harriet Dart to move through to the third round of the women’s doubles.

Watson attributed her run here partly to the good feelings doubles has generated, saying: “I feel so confident with me and Harriet as a pair. And I think playing with Harriet in Eastbourne last week is what’s helped me here this week.

“I’m a big believer in and lover of doubles. Now in my singles I’m coming to the net more. I think if anything it helps – just not too much.”

Watson had also been due to play mixed doubles with Ken Skupski on Saturday but decided that was one event too many after tweaking her knee in a slip during her third-round singles win over Kaja Juvan.

“I never withdraw so it was really hard for me to make this decision,” said Watson. “On one of my falls yesterday where I slipped out wide I twinged the back of my knee. I still feel that today and I just don’t want to make it worse.

“Had Ken not won his (men’s) doubles, I would have just tried my best, but I spoke to him and he was totally understanding. He was so awesome about it.

“I just need to take care of my body. I feel fortunate that I can be in all the events. Mixed is always a no-brainer to sign in here because winning with Henri (Kontinen) here was probably the best day of my life.”

Watson first reached the third round of a grand slam in singles here a decade ago but has never previously managed to make it further.

She would have had a day off on Sunday had Wimbledon not decided to schedule play throughout the 14 days for the first time this year.

Heather Watson (left) and Harriet Dart are flying high in women’s doubles (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Instead, she will take on 22-year-old German Jule Niemeier on Centre Court in what is undoubtedly a fine chance to reach a first grand slam quarter-final.

“I’m really excited,” said Watson. “Back into focus mode now. I’ll keep hydrating, go see the physios, take care of my body, get an early night. I wouldn’t mind a day off but I don’t mind playing either because I’m in a groove.”

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